QA testing is a key step in any e-learning project. Most seasoned e-learning professionals know that you should always test your e-learning courses in the same environment as your learners use. Not only does this help you spot any technical issues before your course is rolled out, but it ensures your learners will have a good experience. For accessible e-learning, QA-testing your courses also includes viewing them with a screen reader.
But if you’re new to creating accessible content, how do you know what to look out for? What’s expected behavior … and what’s not? We’ve pulled together this handy list of questions and answers to assist with this dilemma! Asking yourself these questions as you QA-test your projects will help you go beyond simply ensuring that your course works from a technical standpoint; it will give you new ways to optimize the learning experience for everyone—especially those learners using a screen reader.
- Can you navigate through all of your content without getting stuck? Some interactions—like drag-and-drops—aren’t keyboard accessible. If you choose to include them in your course, people using their keyboard to navigate—with or without a screen reader—could get stuck, and might not be able to move forward. If you’re creating an accessible course, consider creating alternative interactions, like a matching drop-down exercise, for example.
- Is there any content you’re not able to access? For example, if you’ve included important information in the hover state of a button, learners using a keyboard to navigate (with or without a screen reader) won’t be able to access it. Consider placing that content directly on the slide so that all your learners can benefit from it.
- Does it take a long time to navigate through every object on the slide? Consider hiding any objects that don’t add value from the screen reader. If you’re using Storyline 360, you can do that by opening your project, right-clicking on the object, selecting Accessibility, and unchecking the Object Is Visible to Accessibility Tools box or by removing that object from the focus order.
- Is it clear what the learner needs to interact with? If not, consider adding additional on-screen or alt text to explain what learners need to do.
Audio & Video
- Is there any audio or video in the course that makes it hard to hear or understand the screen reader audio? If so, consider having the audio or video play on click instead of automatically.
- Is there any on-screen text that sounds weird when read aloud? For example, it’s common to write “and/or,” but a screen reader will say that as “and slash or,” which sounds a little strange. If you come across things like that, consider editing your text so that it sounds more conversational when read aloud.
- Do all the images in the course add value? If you’ve included some purely decorative images, the answer might be no. Consider hiding those images from screen readers, so they skip over it. If you’re using Storyline 360, simply follow the steps described earlier in this article to hide any such images.
- Does the alt text for your images add value? If not, consider deleting or modifying the alt text. For tips on writing effective alt text, check out the basics of alternative text here.
- Does the alt text make sense when read alongside on-screen text? Learners will hear (or read via their refreshable braille display) the alt text directly before or after the other textual information on the slide. Listen to it all in context and see how it flows. If it sounds stilted, consider editing it so that it sounds more natural.
Hopefully this list will get you thinking about other ways to optimize the learning experience for your screen reader users. If you think of anything we’ve missed here, please share it with me below!
There’s much more to master about accessible learning. Be sure to check out some of the following resources:
- All About Accessibility
- 6 Best Practices for Designing Accessible E-Learning
- Articulate 360 FAQs: Accessibility
- Storyline 360: How to Design an Accessible Course
- How to Test Your Storyline 360 Course with a Screen Reader
And be sure to follow us on Twitter and come back to E-Learning Heroes regularly for more helpful advice on everything related to e-learning.